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California - June 2022 - Travel Day

Well East Coast Girls are hip, I really dig the clothes they wear.

We were up early. I was hobbling badly and in pain. I find I cannot speak much when I am in so much pain as it takes all my effort in just being present. I also have a much shorter fuse. A great way to start any trip

I just had a final bit of packing of my hand luggage to do before I was ready. But the issue that was worrying me most (apart from pre travel nerves and my knee) was that we still needed to empty and move Karen’s quadruple wardrobe so that the wall behind it could be decorated whilst we were away. It took ages to empty it. Then with Neil’s help manoeuvre it away from the wall before putting everything back in it. I was exhausted afterwards and wanted to lie down but we were on a tight schedule aiming to leave by 11am.

It was 11.05am when we finally left. Neil & I listened to the cricket whilst Karen was asleep before we left Hellesdon. I didn’t have the energy to speak until just before we arrived at Heathrow where Sunny was waiting to meet us to take the car away. His service is just so good.

Check in was very quick and easy. All of paperwork was in order. Security was a breeze as well with no queue.

Through my new credit card, we had lounge passes and were also allowed to take in guests meaning Neil would get to experience it for the first time. We ended up in the Centurion Lounge which was very acceptable. There was a hot food buffet and free bar. Neil did complain about the size of the beers, but we did point out he could have as many as he wanted. I had a couple of G&T’s which went down well.

The time in the Lounge went by quickly and when our gate was announced we made our way there.

There was a walking escalator which helped as it was quite a distance as I was still in pain walking. On the second one I somehow jarred the knee getting onto it which was excruciating. It made me feel faint and by the time we were at the gate I genuinely thought I was going to pass out. Even Karen started to get worried as I went all hot and clammy. Neil then got concerned when my watch started giving out alerts and warnings about my rapid heart rate. Eventually though the pain in my knee started to subside and I started to feel better. A great start and we hadn’t even got onto the plane.

Karen & I were amongst the first to board as we had Premium Economy Seats courtesy of airmiles. We did feel guilty as we sat there drinking bubbles as Neil trudged his way past us to the back of the plane.

Just everything about Virgin is better than BA. The seats are bigger and comfier. The service is many times better and higher quality.

Oh, but it is a long way to San Francisco. I didn’t move for the first 4 hours trying to take the pressure off my knee. I watched ‘The Duke’ which was really good as was ‘The Last Bus’. Both British films that only we could make and probably only us would watch.

We both then had a doze. The time did drag though.

Arriving into San Francisco was easy as there was no queue at Global Security. Our bags were almost first off the carousel. Neil took a while to get through security and he came and found us just as I was getting his bag from the carousel.

There was a long train shuttle ride to the Rental Car Centre.

I was pleased there was no queue at the Thrifty desk. I handed over the paperwork. The lady serving us said that I had apparently ordered a convertible. I respectively disagreed and pointed out that the 3 of us with luggage would not fit into one. She agreed but said that was what was on the booking. I responded that I would never book such an expensive car and that I was sure I had booked a SUV. I told her I was very tired and would take any car that we would fit in. She said there would be an amendment fee but that was more than the original full cost I made. I remained calm and pointed out I wanted a downgrade on what she claimed we had booked and then said I wouldn’t and couldn’t pay the exorbitant fee.

So, we had a standoff. I was exasperated but still calm. Karen came over and certainly wasn’t calm when she learnt the situation. In the end I had to ask her to leave me to sort it as she was making the situation worse. I decided to just stand at the counter and not say anything. Eventually the counter clerk phoned her manager and a SUV was somehow produced. She then started whispering about not telling anyone what she had done for us. I did have a charge put onto my credit card but I think that was just a hold, if it’s not then I will challenge it through Amex later.

Relieved we went down to our allocated slot in the garage and found a US Muscle car rather than a SUV. I was now even more confused as there was even less of a chance, we would all fit in that. Then someone ran up to us and told us our car had been moved and was located elsewhere. And it was, and it was fine.

Some 100 minutes after landing we were on the streets of San Francisco. Using Waze to guide us it took about 25 minutes to get to the Airbnb in Dunsmire Street. Fortunately, it was perfectly acceptable as somewhere to stay although Karen still moaned that she would rather be in an anonymous Hotel.

The owners left some jiggers for drinks and we made some tea. All the jiggers were off though which made Karen grumpy.

I took time to check the rental car paperwork and found hidden in it that it did state a convertible. I then checked online the booking company who I had booked it through and found they do not even offer a convertible as an option, which confirmed my position that I had not and in fact could not have booked one. I do recall though that in the past SUV have been in the same vehicle class as convertibles and wonder if something had gone amiss between the 2 companies. I think it was a just a IT problem.

It was by now bedtime over here alone the extra 8 hours ahead that our body clocks were telling us and so we all just went to bed. I was so tired I cannot remember my head hitting the pillow.

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